“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished, lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” - Carter G. Woodson, African American Historian
February is Black History Month, where we honor and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans who have guided our country’s growth and progress.
Throughout our history, the YMCA has worked to meet the ever changing needs of our diverse communities and provide a place where people of all backgrounds can gather to create positive social changes. The Y has been privileged to support African American leaders who have moved our country forward.
One of the first YMCAs was also one of the earliest African American organizations in the country. Former slave Anthony Bowen founded a black YMCA in Washington D.C. in 1853. By 1896, there were 60 active YMCAs for Black Americans, and by 1924, membership grew to 28,000 members across 160 Ys.
Black History Month has roots in the Y as well. In 1915, Carter G. Woodson organized the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History at the Wabash Avenue YMCA in Chicago, leading to the creation of Negro History Week in 1926 and eventually Black History Month. Today, Woodson’s group is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the Wabash Avenue YMCA is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Throughout the month of February, we will share other moments in Black History involving the YMCA. To learn more about the rich history of the YMCA, visit: www.ymca.net/history